Cartoon: Patriarchy is Everywhere

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This is one of the few cartoons that I just straight-up swiped from somebody else.

Well, sort of.

Almost two years ago, feminist writer Anne Thériault posted this tweet:

I love when women are having the I Won’t Take My Husband’s Name Because I Already Have My Own Name conversation & a dude pops in with “but you’ve already taken a MAN’S last name from your dad” and like how clever of you to notice that, yes, the patriarchy is literally everywhere.

I laughed at the tweet and, on an impulse, wrote her asking if I could swipe that for a cartoon. She kindly wrote back “yes,” and I sat down to lay it out and… Couldn’t figure out how it worked as a cartoon. So much of what makes it funny in Anne’s tweet is her sweetly snarky narration, and how does that translate into one of my cartoons, nearly all of which are dialog-based and have no narration?

So into the “I don’t know how to make this cartoon work” folder it went. And nearly two years later I thought of doing it with the characters in earnest; the feminist character earnestly having a realization (or at least, pretending to be earnest), and the anti-feminist character earnestly regretting pushing her into that realization?

That’s very different from Anne’s original tweet, but (at least for my tastes) it makes the cartoon funny. So here we are. I hope Anne likes it when she sees it!

This was fun to draw. I had fun with the characters, and the tiny screens, and figuring out how few colors I could use and still get the look I wanted.

The most fun part, though, was completely gratuitous.

I decided early on to give the feminist character an unnatural hair color, because it would enhance character recognition between the tiny character on the phone screen in panel one, and the character in panel 3, drawn much larger and at a different angle. (The striped orange sleeves on the male character serve the same purpose.)

Somewhere along the line, I thought “well, if she has pink hair, she’d probably have tattoos as well.” And then when I actually sat down to draw it, I had so much fun drawing tattoos that I took way longer than I should have and ended up covering her entire left arm. Her tattoo shows some made-up characters, Jack from Nightmare Before Christmas (Jacks’ partner Sally is on the other arm), and NoFace from Spirited Away (which is one of my favorite movies).



This cartoon has three panels.


A hand is holding out a smartphone; on the smartphone, we can see a split-screen showing two people, apparently having a Zoom or Skype call. One of the people is a slightly chubby woman with dyed pink hair; the other is a man wearing a striped shirt and glasses; he has a beard and mustache, and is either naturally bald or (more likely, since he’s doesn’t look very old) has shaved his head.

On the screen, we can see the man is reaching one arm out, towards the camera; presumably, he’s the person holding up the smartphone.

WOMAN: I mean, why would I take my husband’s name? I’ve already got my own name!

MAN: Ha! Feminists are so stupid!


A shot of the man inside a nice-looking home – there’s an arched doorway behind him, and through the doorway we can see part of a tidy kitchen – as he talk/laughs at the phone he’s holding up. The woman’s voice is coming from the phone.

WOMAN: Excuse me?

MAN: Newsflash, sweetie: “Your” name came from your father, and he’s a man!


A shot of the woman, inside her home. Behind her is a window, and through the window we can see a hillside with a couple of trees. On a table next to her is an open laptop, with the man on the screen, and a coffee mug. She has slapped a palm to the side of her forehead, as if having a revelation, and is looking up instead of looking at the screen. On the screen, we can see his face looking a little bit panicked as he tries to walk it back.

WOMAN: I see your point! The patriarchy is literally everywhere! You’re right! I have to get more radical!

MAN: Er… No, that’s not what I…

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Feminism, sexism, etc | 11 Comments  

Open Thread and Link Farm, Canned Milk Edition

  1. Debt and Deficits, Yet Again – Center for Economic and Policy Research
    “The deficit hawks will be screaming that the Biden package will over-stimulate the economy, leading to rising interest rates and inflation. There is some truth to these claims, but we have to think clearly about what is at issue.”
  2. Black US doctor dies of Covid alleging racist hospital care – BBC News
    “”He made me feel like I was a drug addict,” Dr Moore said in a Facebook video. “And he knew I was a physician. I don’t take narcotics. I was hurting.””
  3. Jimmy Dore and the Left’s Naïve Cynics Have Turned on AOC
    The headline is about AOC, but I’m linking it for its discussion of the (non)viability of an immediate vote on Medicare For All. “If politics is a tool for minimizing needless suffering — rather than a theater for performing one’s personal convictions — then a tactic is only as morally sound as it is likely to succeed.”
  4. The anti-porn religious lobby just destroyed the livelihoods of thousands of pornographers | Salon.comThe headline is a bit misleading – the article itself has virtually no emphasis on the “religious” lobby in particular, and honestly part of what makes the anti-porn lobby so difficult to address is that it’s in effect a coalition of religious conservatives and anti-sex-work leftists. But despite that misleading headline, the article is very good.
  5. The top priority in America right now is getting vaccines into arms as quickly as possible. And we’re just not doing it.
  6. “I’ve had a long time to think about what I did when I was 13. That was how old I was when I ceased to be a daughter, sister, niece, student, and friend and became instead a murderer, super predator, killer, felon, criminal, and inmate.”
  7. Rejected Tintin cover design sets record for comic book art with €3.2m auction price | The Art Newspaper
    That’s $3,868,864 in U.S. dollars. “Like all markets, it’s a question of supply and demand and there is practically no supply.”
  8. Why immigration doesn’t reduce wages – Noahpinion
    “In this post, I’m going to explain why immigration doesn’t lower wages for native-born people (except possibly a little bit, in a few special circumstances). But before I do that, there’s one thing you really have to understand: No one is going to be persuaded by this post. There are two reasons for this.”
  9. Separated by Design: How Some of America’s Richest Towns Fight Affordable Housing — ProPublica
    A great deal of this story is set in Westport, CT, where I was raised from fifth to twelfth grades. In some ways the story gives a false impression – the majority of Westport homeowners don’t live in mansions or on beachfront – but it’s nearly entirely on target.
  10. Mimi Choi – Google Image Search
    Choi is fantastic. I love this sort of illusion-based face painting, and I don’t think I’ve seen anyone do it better.
  11. Why $15 minimum wage is pretty safe – Noahpinion
    The best evidence indicates that raising the minimum wage to $15 won’t cause a significant amount of unemployment. I found the graph at the top of the post, showing how economists’ opinions on this have changed over time, to be very striking, and as someone who has been saying this for decades I admit it has made me a little bit smug(ger).
  12. The 1994 Crime Law Hogs The Legal Reform Spotlight. But A Lesser-Known Law Deserves More Attention. – The Appeal
    “…Reformers should focus on the Prison Litigation Reform Act, which restricts the ability of incarcerated people to protest their conditions of confinement.”
  13. A twitter thread from UK trans podcast “What The Trans” giving a history “on how absurd the UK is on transgender issues and how the UK got so transphobic.” (And an alternate non-Twitter version).
  14. In Poland, Protests Over Abortion Ban Could Revolutionize Politics – The New York Times (And an alternate link.)
    “Hundreds of thousands of women, teenagers and their male allies have been turning out every few days on the streets of cities and small towns across the country for weeks, braving tear gas, court orders, harsh police tactics and surging Covid infections.”
  15. A thorough (and thus lengthy) rebuttal of Kathleen Stock’s anti-trans arguments.
    “”If you really think I’m an ‘anti-trans’ activist you really had better spell out why, and with evidence,” she said on Twitter yesterday. I will do that here.”
  16. Lindsey Stirling – Crystallize (from Home For The Holidays) – YouTube
    Dancing and playing the violin while suspended from the ceiling by your hair may be a stunt, but it’s one I really enjoyed watching. I looked at it and thought “I guess that isn’t as painful as I’d imagine it to be,” but then I watched her vlog about learning to hang from her hair, and oh my god it’s so much more painful than I imagine. (CW for weeping due to pain.) I know some violinists sneer at Stirling’s violin abilities, but I think they’re missing the point – she’s not one of the best violinists, or one of the best dancers, or one of the best video makers, but she might be the greatest dancing violinist videomaker.
  17. I’m really enjoying Marvel’s new TV show WandaVision. Although I wonder what the show’s like for viewers too young to be familiar with 1950s and 60s sit-coms.
  18. Countdown to Biden’s inauguration. 2 days, 19 hours, 6 minutes, 47 seconds as I type this.

Posted in Link farms | 12 Comments  

An Anti-Trans Argument that’s Identical to an Anti-Choice Argument (and why it’s wrong)

Anti-choicers and anti-trans folks make the same argument: having an abortion/taking puberty blockers is too complex a decision for a teen, they say. We can’t let them choose when the stakes are so high, they say. The implication is that we can avoid these high stakes by not allowing abortion / puberty blockers.

But the “no treatment” option anti-choicers demand doesn’t maintain the status quo for a pregnant teen. Letting nature take its course – forcing a teen to go through childbirth – is likely to radically change a teen’s life in ways that can never be reversed.

The “let’s do nothing and wait” option doesn’t maintain the status quo for trans teens, either. In both cases, banning treatment forces the teens to go through permanent changes that may do them great harm.

Banning a treatment – whether it’s puberty blockers or abortion – isn’t putting off deciding until later. It’s the government making the decision right now, without regard for what’s best for the teen.

For teens who may be trans, there is a “putting off deciding” option – and that option is puberty blockers.

And they’re not easy to get! There are already so many barriers to treatment! It can take YEARS between diagnosis and beginning to receive puberty blockers.

If a young teen is pregnant, forcing them to give birth would be horrible and traumatic. And forcing an abortion on them would be horrible and traumatic. It’s a decision that HAS to be made by the teen. In consultation with parents and doctors, sure. But in the end, neither childbirth nor abortion can be justly forced on anyone.

If a young person has gender dysphoria, I hope they get good counsel from parents, from doctors, from loved ones, and from trusted adults who have gone through the same thing. But in the end, it would be unjust and traumatizing to either force them to take puberty blockers, or to force them to go through the wrong sex’s puberty. Like the choice between abortion and childbirth, this decision HAS to be made by the person themselves.

Will some people look back, years later, and think they made the wrong decision?

Yes. It may be rare, but it inevitably happens sometimes.

Just like there are people who got abortions young and grew up and regretted it. That’s sad, but we shouldn’t therefore ban abortion.

If “someday, some small number of patients will regret this treatment” was a reason to ban a treatment, there’d be very little medicine left.

Actually, a bunch of their arguments are the same.

Posted in Abortion & reproductive rights, Transsexual and Transgender related issues | 10 Comments  

Cartoon: Now That Trump’s Leaving…

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Happy new year!

Despite how pessimistic this cartoon is, I believe 2021 will be better than 2020. I’m looking forward to a new and much better President – which will happen in 1 week, 1 day, 9 hours, 43 minutes and 56 seconds from when I type this sentence. (I’ve been keeping a tab with a countdown clock open.) A covid vaccine is on the horizon, and if the horizon isn’t exactly close, at least I feel reassured that it exists.

But too many democrats – including, perhaps, Joe Biden – seem to think that the rot, and in particular the attack on democracy, in the Republican party comes from Donald Trump. But this reverses cause and effect. Trump’s ascendency is a result of the GOP’s long-festering hatred of democracy, from Bush v Gore to gutting the Voting Rights Act to any number of voter suppression laws to gerrymandering.

Trump is the Republican party with the mask removed. And even if the mask comes back on, the GOP’s war on democracy will continue.

I’m sorry this is so depressing. I honestly do think things are going to get a lot better in 2021, and I hope we all feel a lot of joy in… 1 week, 1 day, 9 hours, 32 minutes, and 4 seconds. I sure will.

It’s fun to do a single-panel cartoon now and then, because I can lavish more attention on the drawing than usual. And, of course, drawing monster faces is always fun.

I think this is only the fifth or sixth time I’ve ever drawn Trump. And, honestly, I don’t think I did the best job of it. But to be honest – and if I can’t be honest with my patrons, then who can I be honest with? – well, my cat, I can say anything to my cat – But my point is, I’m so pleased that I’ll never become really fluent at drawing that horrible man. It’s possible that I will never ever draw him again.

Another fun thing about single-panel cartoons? It takes so little time to write the transcript!


This cartoon has a single panel.

The panel shows a blighted and ugly landscape. It’s a hillside, bleak and barren, with ugly green storm clouds against a dark red sky.

There is a huge, monstrous head sticking out of an lifeless hillside. The head has bumps and a dozen or so horns, irregularly shaped and in one case broken off. It has a tiny nose and tiny, glaring eyes. It’s mostly green and yellow, but on one cheek a flap of skin has come off, showing some red underneath. The huge mouth is open like a garage, and we can see huge and irregular pointy teeth and a bulbous tongue covered with warts.

A sign sticking out of the ground, just in front of the head, says “G.O.P.”

A trail of slime leads out of the open mouth, to the lower left corner of the cartoon, where a sluglike creature with Donald Trump’s face is crawling away. Trumpslug is wearing a shirt collar and a long red necktie.

Nearby, a couple of ordinary-looking people, a man and a woman, are happily watching Trumpslug depart. They are facing away from the awful gigantic head looming over them and don’t appear to have noticed it.

MAN: He’s leaving!

WOMAN: Democracy is safe from the monster!

P.S.: 1 week, 1 day, 9 hours, 21 minutes, 27 seconds!

Posted in Cartooning & comics | 2 Comments  

Cartoon: What Kind Of People Sexualize Children?

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This strip was drawn by my frequent collaborator Becky Hawkins.  As usual, Becky excels at communicating setting after setting in small panels; I think the store interior in panel 3 is particularly nice. I also love the way she ages Lucy and Lucy’s dad from panel to panel.

“They’re coming after your children!” was, for decades, an argument made by the right against lesbian, gay and bi rights. (And other groups! Becky and I lampooned this back in 2017). And although some conservative diehards are still making that argument, by and large they’ve switched to claiming that rights for transgender people are endangering children.

This argument comes in a lot of forms. The one this cartoon is about – the idea that recognizing that some children are transgender is sexualizing those children – is one that I’ve mostly heard from random angry transphobes on Twitter, but this false connection is also made in more respectable sources, like the Heritage Foundation.

The cartoon is also about the ways that adults project their own ideas about gender roles onto children. (Very heteronormative ideas, I would add.) This sort of projection is not exclusively right-wing: Virtually all people look at young boys and girls and see whatever they believe about sex roles reflected back at them.

So the answer to the dad’s question in the last panel? Ordinary people do. And they do it all the time.

(The most extreme and creepy examples of it – child beauty pageants and purity balls – do seem to be right-wing.) (#Notallrightwingers do this, thankfully.)

When I was doing research for this cartoon, I found some of the photos from child pageants so disturbing that I decided to switch the scene of panel 3 from “Lucy” actually in a pageant to Lucy’s dad shopping for the dress, just so I could have the dress be on a mannequin rather than on a girl.


This cartoon has four panels, plus a tiny “kicker” panel below the bottom of the comic.


Two toddlers, one a blonde girl dressed in pink, and the other a boy in blue, are playing in a sandbox in a park. They aren’t paying any attention to each other. The girl is just sort of making a pile of sand; the boy is experimentally biting on the handle of the little plastic shovel (and seems to be enjoying it). In the background, two adults are watching the kids and talking to each other, a red-headed man (who I’ll call “Dad”) and a blonde woman.

DAD: Look at Lucy, flirting and making eyes at him!

WOMAN: Look at him, showing off for her!


We seem to be outside a school building or daycare; the building is made of red bricks, and we can see paper cut-out hearts taped to the large windows. In front of the building, near a hopscotch game chalked onto the pavement, is Lucy (two or three years older, but we can recognize her by the similar shade of pink and the blonde hair) and another boy. The boy is yanking on Lucy’s pony tail, and Lucy looks annoyed. In the foreground, two adults – including the redheaded dad from panel 1 – are watching, looking amused. (The other adult is a woman, but not the same woman as the woman in panel 1).

DAD: I think Lucy has a boyfriend!

WOMAN: It’ll be so cute if they marry each other someday!


We are in a shop with fancy, bright-colored dresses and costume jewelry and stuff. The redheaded man, now maybe a bit fuller around the waist, is chatting to a shopgirl while gesturing towards a burgundy outfit on a mannequin. The outfit is very fancy, and has two pieces, a band shirt and a short skirt, leaving the mannequin’s waist bare. Lucy, now looking a few years older, is looking up at the outfit expressionlessly.

MAN: I just couldn’t wait to get Lucy on the pageant circuit! Lucy, let’s try this one on you!


Some years later, Lucy – now looking like a young teen – and her dad (now quite a bit chubbier, and his hairline is beginning to recede) are sitting at home, dad in a comfortable looking armchair, while Lucy sits at a table in the background doing homework. Lucy is looking up at her dad, and a “!” has appeared next to her head. Dad is speaking and gesturing angrily at something on his smartphone.

DAD: Just look at this! Diagnosing children as “trans”… Prescribing “puberty blockers”… What kind of people sexualize children?


Barry the cartoonist is speaking to the redheaded dad. The redheaded dad – apparently older, as his hairline has receded further – is turning away from Barry the cartoonist.

BARRY: Trans children’s healthcare isn’t about “sex.” It’s about identity, comfort, and—

DAD: Can’t talk — Lucy and I need to practice our purity ball dance.

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Transsexual and Transgender related issues | 4 Comments  

Cartoon: A Trans Man Walks Into The City Clerk’s Office…

This cartoon is a collaboration with Becky Hawkins.

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Some cartoons come about because I hear a friend complain about something I’d never thought about, and then I see another person online complaining about the same thing, and then another. It’s a sign of privilege, of course; I don’t notice these things because I don’t have to. But once it’s pointed out to me it turns out it’s all over the place.

And then I think, “is there a cartoon in this”?

In this case, what I hadn’t known about was the heavy and often unnecessary bureaucracy involved in being trans. For trans people who need or want to update official papers and records, the paperwork and hurdles are daunting, and often pointless. And it’s not just the government; some of my friends have found they have to slog through bureaucracy again and again, with their bank, with their school (or their children’s school), with their mortgage company, and on and on. It can feel endless, and endlessly frustrating.

I first wrote this cartoon years ago, but I couldn’t solve the problem of the first panel.

The first panel, you see, needs to explain the situation to readers who (like me) were unaware of the issue. My first draft had the protagonist say something like “I need to change my sex” to the city clerk (I’ve lost the exact wording), but a trans friend I showed the cartoon to said that was an incredibly unlikely way for a trans character to put it, and suggested “switch my gender marker” as a more realistic alternative.

The problem with that, however, is that most cis readers won’t know what “switch my gender marker” means. (I didn’t know until my friend told me). I tried putting in a caption to explain the terminology, but that seemed clumsy, and anyway a lot of readers would skim or skip the caption, unless it was at the top of the panel. But putting it at the top would mean putting the explanation before the dialog it’s explaining, and that seemed odd.

So, without a first panel I was happy with, it went into the “unfinished cartoon” file and stayed there a few years. Every once in a while I’d take it out and fiddle with it, but I didn’t feel I’d solved the problem.

Then I showed it to Becky, and she was interested in drawing it. After Becky and I kicked around some ideas for fixing the first panel (with a lot of help from Becky’s very awesome girlfriend Naomi – hi Naomi!), I thought of using the clerk’s dialog to get the necessary exposition across in panel one, hence “Oh, so you’re trans.” With that line, I finally felt that cis readers would be able to understand the cartoon (or at least understand it enough), no caption necessary.

Admittedly, it’s a clumsy and tactless thing for the clerk to say – but cis people often are clumsy and tactless, so I could live with that. (Some readers may disagree, of course.)

In any case, it’s the best I could do. Cartoon writing is often like this; it’s a series of little puzzles that have to be solved. “How can I do X in just one panel and less than 20 words?” Probably there’s a better solution than the one I used, that I just wasn’t clever enough to come up with.

(Why no more than 20 words? Because somewhere around 20-30 words, readers start to skim. That’s fine for panels 2 and 3 of this cartoon – as long as the readers get a sense of the complexity and extent of the bureaucracy, it won’t hurt the cartoon if they skim the details – but if people skim panel 1, they might not get the cartoon at all).

Look at the architecture in panel 1! It just screams “city clerk’s window in town hall building.” That’s one of the things I love about collaborating with Becky – her ability to get across specific environments so well. I also love the perspective of that line of people waiting for help.


There are four panels, plus an additional small “kicker” panel under the cartoon.


Inside a mustard-yellow government building – an old one with arched ceilings – people wait on line to talk to a woman in one of those windows embedded in an internal wall, for government workers to talk to people without being in the same room as them.

What are those windows called? I have no idea.

Next to the window, a sign on the wall says “Office of the City Clerk.”

On the public side of the window, a young man wearing a blue shirt, and carrying a brown document bag slung over a shoulder, is talking to a blonde woman on the other side of the window. The woman has short hair with spiky bangs, pink cats eye glasses, and is wearing a purple shirt with sleeves that end about halfway down her forearm. We’ll call him “BLUE” and her “CLERK.”

BLUE: Hi! I need to change my name and switch my gender marker to “M.”

CLERK: Oh, so you’re trans? Okay!


A closer shot of the two of them. She’s handing a document to him as she talks cheerfully. His back is to us, so we can’t see his face.

CLERK: First, you’ll need to pay to have your name change announced in a newspaper. You’ll need an appointment for a court hearing… That can take months. Meanwhile, hire a notary to watch someone you know sign this affidavit.


The “camera” has moved to a position from which we can see both characters’ faces. She is handing him a HUGE stack of papers. His eyes are wide and he looks shocked as he eyes the stack.

CLERK: When you go to court, bring money for court fees and a letter from your therapist. And that’s just for your driver’s license. There’s lots more for your social security and birth certificate. Here are some of the forms you’ll need.

CLERK: Next!


Blue has left, and now a young woman with long brown hair is standing at the window, showing the Clerk a piece of paper. The clerk is smiling and making a thumbs up gesture.

WOMAN: Hi! I’m a bride, and I need to change my name. Here’s my marriage license.

CLERK: Done! Have a nice day.


Barry the cartoonist is talking to the clerk.

BARRY: Is this the state rewarding people for being gender normative?

CLERK: I can tell you for a fee.

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Transsexual and Transgender related issues | 7 Comments  

Cancel Culture, Mimi, Jimmy, and Cowards At The University of Tennessee

This story is dispiriting and ugly. (Alternate link).

When she was in the ninth grade, Mimi (who is white) sent a friend a three-second video in which Mimi used the N-word.

Ms. Groves had originally sent the video, in which she looked into the camera and said, “I can drive,” followed by the slur, to a friend on Snapchat in 2016, when she was a freshman and had just gotten her learner’s permit. It later circulated among some students at Heritage High School, which she and Mr. Galligan attended, but did not cause much of a stir.

I don’t think we can understand this story without knowing what the environment was like at Heritage High. Mimi’s use of the n-word was not unusual there – even teachers allegedly used racial slurs. And it was harmful. Some students of color felt “despair” in that environment.

In interviews, current and former students of color described an environment rife with racial insensitivity, including casual uses of slurs.

A report commissioned last year by the school district documented a pattern of school leaders ignoring the widespread use of racial slurs by both students and teachers, fostering a “growing sense of despair” among students of color, some of whom faced disproportionate disciplinary measures compared with white students.

“It is shocking the extent to which students report the use of the N-word as the prevailing concern,” the report said. School system employees also had a “low level of racial consciousness and racial literacy,” while a lack of repercussions for hurtful language forced students into a “hostile learning environment,” it said.

Mimi’s classmate Jimmy (who is Black) saved a copy of the video for yearshad a copy of the video, and released it after Mimi (who is very serious about cheerleading) was admitted to the University of Tennessee, which has one of the best cheerleading programs in the country. After social media backlash – although it’s not clear to me how much, the example linked by the Times is to an account with all of 30 followers – the University of Tennessee threatened Mimi with having her admission revoked, unless Mimi withdrew her application, which Mimi did.

A few points.

1) I’ve always said our society should forgive bad things done by young people (with exceptions for some extraordinary circumstances, none of which apply here). It was wrong for Mimi to use the n-word in the ninth grade, but that was years ago, in an environment where even some grown-ups used racial slurs; it’s not surprising she didn’t know better back then. She wasn’t using it to attack anyone, and at least one Black friend of hers has said Mimi apologized to her for using the word (before the scandal broke out). Mimi shouldn’t be punished for her ninth grade screw-up now, either by social media or by the University of Tennessee.

2) Forgiving young people, and not wanting them tarried with bad acts forever, isn’t just for Mimi. Jimmy deserves that, too. But you’d never know that from reading Mimi’s defenders. Jimmy is currently being reviled by name by what we would call a “social media mob” if the mobbers were on the left.

Rod Dreher, in The American Conservative, wrote:

This Times story will follow Jimmy Galligan everywhere too. If that kid applied for a job at my firm, I would never hire him. If he were my co-worker, I would stay away from him, lest I offend him and get the Little- Anthony-from-The-Twilight-Zone treatment. He has shown the kind of person he is: a hateful progressive who takes pleasure in causing others unnecessary pain and suffering for the sake of virtue. He wants to terrorize others. Everybody who goes to college with him now, and who crosses his path, should consider themselves forewarned.

In the very next paragraph Dreher, with no apparent awareness of his hypocrisy, writes “But it is a monstrous society that doesn’t offer a way for people to turn from their sins and failings.” I agree, Rod – and you’re being an eager contributor to that monstrous society.

Dreher isn’t alone in wishing the worse for this teenager. People on twitter – some with few followers, some with thousands – have been reviling Jimmy, gloating over his (they hope) future unemployability, and calling for revenge.

3) Both Mimi and Jimmy’s acts seem like products of the toxic racial atmosphere at Heritage High. Mimi, hearing the N-word used casually all around her, used the N-word casually. And Jimmy, growing up in that poisonous environment, tried to find a way to make people pay attention, to have at least one white person feel regret. (Or that’s my guess, obviously I can’t know either of their minds for sure.)

4) The University of Tennessee should be ashamed of themselves. They should have ignored the entire story and let it blow over, instead of making the story, and both these young people, national news by kicking Mimi out. More than anyone else, the cowards at the University of Tennessee should be held responsible for this entire mess.

5) Almost no one outside of Tennessee would have heard of this story if the Times hadn’t decided to cover it. If, years from now, this story still turns up on the front page when people search Mimi or Jimmy’s names, that’s the fault of the Times.

6) After writing the above, I saw that Mansa Kieta on twitter has a very good take on this.

Posted in Media criticism, norms of discourse, Racism, Society & Culture | 45 Comments  

Cartoon: Elves United!

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Merry Christmas to all of you who celebrate it! And to those of you that don’t celebrate it but do enjoy saying “merry Christmas!”

I love doing pro-union cartoons, and I’m proud that my cartoons have appeared in various union newsletters over the years.

It’s not a subject I see often enough in political cartoons. And not only are unions essential in and of themselves, they’re also a powerful force for progressive politics – or they can be.

The idea for this cartoon is pretty basic: Elves at the North Pole try to form a union, and management (Santa) tries to stop them using anti-union arguments and techniques corporations use in the real world. It’s an easy-to-understand premise that can support a lot of gags.

The nice thing about a cartoon like this one is that doing a gag per panel gives me several bites at the funny apple. Joke in one panel doesn’t strike you as funny? Well, then, go try the next one. And the one after that. Surely at least one of these will amuse you!

This one took a while to draw, primarily because there are 20 different figures (or partial figures) visible in the cartoon, and they all had to fit in smaller-than-usual panels with quite a lot of dialog. (And then Frank Young had to color all those figures. Sorry, Frank!)

Santa was very easy to draw. Rudolph took more effort, but it was totally worth it. I don’t know why, but that’s the panel in this cartoon that makes me laugh.


This cartoon has six panels. Each panel has a large caption at the top, in a big friendly font that’s colored black, red, and green.


CAPTION: How Bosses Try To Beat The Union

The panel shows seven angry-looking elves who are either demonstrating or on strike. Behind them is a large banner that says “Elves United Cannot Be Defeated.” One elf holds up a sign which says “No Justice No Toys!,” and another holds up a sign which says “Santa Unfair!”


CAPTION: Playing the Family Card

This panel shows Santa, with a big smile and arms stretched out like he’s about to hug someone, talking to a skeptical-looking elf with crossed arms. Santa is wearing the traditional Santa red pants and black boots, and suspenders and a white tee shirt.

SANTA: I’ve always thought of us as family, not as boss and workers.

ELF: What’s my name?

SANTA: um… Elfie? Elfo?


CAPTION: Predicting Catastrophe

In the background, we see Santa standing at a lectern, making a speech and looking stern. In the foreground, one elf cheerfully whispers to the elf next to them.

SANTA: If the elves form a union, that will be the end of Christmas forever!

ELF: Don’t worry. Hannukah would hire us in a second!


CAPTION: Divide and Conquer

Santa, grinning big, is talking to Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, raising a finger to make a point. Rudolph, looking a little angry, talks back.

SANTA: Get the elves back to work, and you’ll lead the sleigh every year, fog or no fog!

RUDOLPH: No deal, Santa! Rudolph ain’t playing your reindeer games!


CAPTION: Manufacturing Dissent

Santa is sitting on the floor, wearing the full Santa outfit, plus a fake long nose and fake pointy ears, in a pathetically bad attempt to disguise himself as an elf. He’s talking to two elves, one of whom is slapping their forehead in a “I don’t believe this” gesture, while the other is grinning (almost laughing) and talking to Santa.

SANTA: Speaking as an ordinary elf, I don’t trust these unionizers! No sir!

ELF: Seriously?


CAPTION: But Eventually…

In the background, we see two children, looking happy, next to a Christmas Tree. They have packages on the floor around them, and one of the kids is holding an open box, and looking at a slip of paper he presumably just pulled out of the box.

In the foreground, Santa, wearing the full traditional Santa outfit and with a big bag slung over one shoulder, is walking away from the kids, but he turns his head back and speaks, looking grumpy.

CHILD 1: It says “Proudly manufactured by union elves.”

CHILD 2: Cool!

SANTA: Ah, shuddup!

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Union Issues | 8 Comments  

Open Thread and Link Farm, Plague Doctors Edition

  1. The Constitution Drafting Project – National Constitution Center
    “The National Constitution Center’s Constitution Drafting project brings together three teams of leading constitutional scholars—team libertarian, team progressive, and team conservative—to draft and present their ideal constitutions.” Interestingly, the progressive and conservative constitutions both got rid of lifetime tenure for Supreme Court justices.
  2. Vaccine allocation, age, and race – Noahpinion
    If we value Black and white lives equally, then on average Black people will get the vaccine sooner.
  3. (1) LORN – ANVIL [Official Music Video] – YouTube
    Odd little science fiction three-minute animated video. A bit heavy metal like (i.e., for no particular reason the main character is a woman with large boobs in a skintight outfit), but fascinating and lovely visuals, all in black and white line drawings. ETA: Content warning for suicide.
  4. I wrote a Twitter thread on censorship in America today – not meaning “Kirkus didn’t review my book,” but meaning “government agents pounding on the door at 6:30am.” (Alternative link.)
  5. Visa and Mastercard are Trying to Dictate What You Can Watch on Pornhub | Electronic Frontier Foundation
    “The truth is, navigating speech policies in a way that won’t shut down huge swaths of legitimate and worthy speech is hard. And it’s wrong that Visa and Mastercard have the power to—however clumsily—police speech online.”
  6. Dorf on Law: Justice Alito’s Sense of Grievance Distorts His Views of Free Speech
    “Justice Alito is, not to put too fine a point on it, acting like a snowflake. Being called a bigot might be hurtful, but it is not censorship. It is counter-speech.”
  7. Why Are These Sea Urchins Sporting Cowboy and Viking Hats? There’s Science to Their Hot Looks
  8. Report Finds Bail Reform in Chicago Reduced Pretrial Incarceration Without Hurting Public Safety – The Appeal
  9. Digging Into the Messy History of “Latinx” Helped Me Embrace My Complex Identity – Mother Jones
  10. Free Speech Activists Are Trying to Get Me Fired Because They Didn’t Like a Joke I Made – The Stage Mirror
  11. A Surreal New Bookstore Has Just Opened in China | Architectural Digest
    The photos are jaw-dropping.
  12. I left a long response in the comments to Shadi Hamid’s plea for Democrats to act in a bipartisan manner. Basically, I think we need to order from the options that are actually on the menu in front of us, not the options we WISH were on the menu.
  13. The dreamlike fungi that thrive in nature’s damp cornersGorgeous photos of mushrooms from the Netherlands.
  14. No-kill, lab-grown meat to go on sale for first time | Meat industry | The Guardian
    The “chicken bites”, produced by the US company Eat Just, have passed a safety review by the Singapore Food Agency and the approval could open the door to a future when all meat is produced without the killing of livestock, the company said.”
  15. Should the government pay Americans to get COVID vaccine? | Miami Herald
    Yes, we should.
  16. Fat Lady Attempts to Get Health Care: An Oral History – McSweeney’s Internet Tendency
    This is a harsh satire about how shitty doctors treat fat women… so please be cautious about clicking through.
  17. Freeze Peach Revisited
    “Free speech is your right to speak free of government interference. This is democratic bedrock. This is also your right to run a blog that nobody reads, print a book that nobody buys, and hold a protest that nobody cares about. Freeze peach is your ability to speak and be heard — for your testimony to be credited, your expertise accepted, for your opinions and preferences to matter in public discussion.”
  18. The photos in this post are by Kuma Kum.

Posted in Link farms | 25 Comments  

Cartoon: You Look Great!

Another collaboration with the wonderful Becky Hawkins!

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I’ve read many fat people’s accounts of losing weight due to illness and having their friends be seemingly thrilled by the weight loss. I’ve had a vague intention of doing a cartoon about it someday. But what actually galvanized me to write this cartoon was a tweet from “Uninhibited Seagull“:

OMG this. I was very ill through last Winter. I lost about 50 lbs through being too sick to be active and at times even too sick to eat. Returning to my workplace after going through that, most reactions appreciated my weight loss more than my health.

Becky said she’d be eager to draw it, and I was glad. This is a perfect cartoon for Becky to draw, because it involves so many specific environments that have to be instantly  understood  by readers, and Becky is fabulous at drawing environments. (She told me she was particularly pleased with the dull and depressing hospital hallway in panel 3.)



This cartoon has four panels, plus a small additional “kicker” panel underneath the cartoon.


We see a woman seated in a doctor’s office, facing the doctor’s desk. The woman has cat’s-eye glasses and purple hair, and is quite fat. She’s holding her hands in front of her mouth, looking afraid. We’ll call her GLASSES.

On the other side of the desk, the doctor is seated, talking to Glasses. She’s displaying a plastic model showing the anatomy of the head and neck.

DOCTOR: Your cancer is treatable. But it’s going to be a  hard road.


A caption at the top of the panel says ONE MONTH LATER.

Glasses is lying in a hospital bed, which has it’s head side partly raised. She’s lying on her side, facing away from her visitor, looking limp, her eyes mostly shut.

In the other side of the bed, a visitor, a balding middle-aged man wearing a green tee shirt, is holding a spoon in one hand and a container (jello, maybe?) in the other. He looks very worried.

VISITOR: Please eat something…

GLASSES: I… I don’t think I can.


A caption at the top of the panel says THREE MONTHS LATER.

Glasses, wearing a hospital gown and slippers, is walking in a dreary hospital corridor. She’s using a walker, and with one hand she’s holding a cell phone by her face, talking to someone. She looks cheerful. She’s much thinner than she was in panel 1, with bags under her eyes and her cheekbones standing out.

GLASSES: I’m not completely out of the woods yet. But they say I can go home.


A caption at the top of the panel says THE NEXT DAY.

Glasses, dressed in a blue blouse and white pants, is on the front yard of a nice-looking adobe bungalow house with a tiled roof, approaching the front door. We can see that this house is one of a row of similar houses on this block. Other than the clothes, she looks a lot like she did in panel three, and is again using a walker.

A friend is standing in the doorway, greeting her cheerfully. Glasses’ mouth is open, but she’s not speaking; she doesn’t know what to say.

FRIEND: Wow, you lost so much weight! You look great!


The same friend is talking to Glasses; glasses still looks surprised.

FRIEND: Man, I wish I could get cancer!

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Fat, fat and more fat | 7 Comments